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The largest measles outbreak in Berlin since 2001 occurred from October 2014 to August 2015. Overall, 1,344 cases were ascertained, 86% (with available information) unvaccinated, including 146 (12%) asylum seekers. Median age was 17 years (interquartile range: 4–29 years), 26% were hospitalised and a 1-year-old child died. Measles virus genotyping uniformly revealed the variant ‘D8-Rostov-Don’ and descendants. The virus was likely introduced by and initially spread among asylum seekers before affecting Berlin’s resident population. Among Berlin residents, the highest incidence was in children aged < 2 years, yet most cases (52%) were adults. Post-exposure vaccinations in homes for asylum seekers, not always conducted, occurred later (median: 7.5 days) than the recommended 72 hours after onset of the first case and reached only half of potential contacts. Asylum seekers should not only have non-discriminatory, equitable access to vaccination, they also need to be offered measles vaccination in a timely fashion, i.e. immediately upon arrival in the receiving country. Supplementary immunisation activities targeting the resident population, particularly adults, are urgently needed in Berlin.


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